“Can apps track your browsing?”
I am pretty sure that this particular question must have struck your mind, and why should it not, as we all use different-different kinds of apps on daily basis. Some of them are our regular banking apps, some are social media apps, whereas some are location-based services apps like Google Maps. Although, there have been instances where big-big companies were accused of data theft. So, is it true that apps can track your browsing history?
Let’s find out!
Can Apps track your Browsing?
Yes, apps have the potential to track your browsing history. Not only does it track your browsing, but it also sells your data to telemarketers and advertising companies.
Sounds shocking right?
Well, it is a harsh truth.
Even your Chrome browser fetches upon your browsing habits and then serves ads and service recommendations accordingly.
Want to get a brief detail on how and which apps commit this sin?
Then read on!
How do Apps track your Browsing?
After receiving a shocking answer to the main query, you must be wondering how do apps track your browsing.
So, to start with, let’s take YouTube as an example. Imagine that you have searched something on Google, say “iPhone 13.” Now, when you open YouTube to see a random video, maybe a song, you will get a feed recommendation or an ad for iPhone 13.
This is exactly what happens when apps track your browsing. It feeds on your input and activity to serve you ads and services.
Moreover, social media apps like “Facebook” also uses your current location, browsing patterns, and activities, to serve you ads and recommendations.
Even many smartphone companies are equally to be blamed on this. You must have heard for companies like Samsung and Xiaomi who provide their smartphones to the customers with pre-installed apps on it, also known as “bloatware.” Now, this bloatware is something that helps these phone manufacturers in getting the data they want.
According to researchgate.net, “Users are clueless about the various data-sharing relationships and partnerships that exist between companies, who decide what phone apps should be preinstalled on their phone.”
Although, if you are an Apple user, you don’t need to worry about your data, as the data that is being tracked with the help of iOS apps is never publicly rotated. Meaning, Apple stores your data into your phone’s local library, and never uploads it to the iCloud.
Which are the companies that can track your browsing?
To start with, I will say Google comes on the number 1 position, followed by Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, etc.
What is the percentage of apps that are captured by some top companies?
The percentage of apps that are captured by some top companies are as follows:
Alphabet = 88.4% of apps.
Facebook = 42.5% of apps.
Twitter = 33.9% of apps.
Verizon = 26.3% of apps.
Microsoft = 22.8% of apps.
Amazon = 17.9% of apps.
Unity Technologies = 5.8% of apps.
Chartboost = 5.5% of apps.
AppLovin = 4% of apps.
Cloudflare = 3.9% of apps.
Otella (Opera) = 3.2% of apps.
How to restrict apps from tracking your browsing history?
Now that you know how apps can track your browsing history and use it for their own benefits, it is time to take the control back by disabling unwanted permissions that are given to apps. And to do that just follow these simple steps:
- Go to your Android phone’s “Settings” menu.
- Now, go to the “Apps” section.
- Head towards the “Permission” section.
- Now, “disable” every permission that you feel is unwanted.
Similarly, go to your Googles account page on the web, and then head towards Data & Privacy to change the way Google can collect your data.
Now on iPhone, navigate to Settings > Privacy, and then disable these options: Location Services, Share my Location (under share my location), Limit Ad Tracking (under advertising).
Apps are an integral part of mobile phones as well as computers, that help these devices to function smoothly. However, these apps have the ability to track your browsing habits to provide you with customized recommendations of ads and services.
Therefore, to safeguard your privacy, you should always run a check on the app permissions and disable the unwanted ones.